Six Steps to Get You Back to Game Play After a Concussion
You hear a lot about a sports concussion these days. From 2019 to 2020, 44.9 percent of children and young people in England fulfilled the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs) requirements of participating in sport and physical activity for an hour or more every day.
That means playing a contact sport like football or rugby on a field for many. Although this kind of physical activity is both fun and healthy, it does put them at risk for a sports-related concussion. What steps should one take when returning to sports after a concussion?
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) produced by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or an impact to the body that causes the head and brain to move back and forth rapidly. This abrupt movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, causing chemical changes and occasionally stretching and destroying brain cells.
While a concussion is a severe injury for athletes of all ages, the prognosis is often favorable when this type of TBI is treated swiftly and effectively. However, the actual issue arises when with repeated concussions. This is why taking the right steps before returning to a sport is essential after a concussion.
A Six-Step Plan to Follow After a Sports-Related Concussion
The return to the playing field is something one should take in steps. This will ensure complete healing before the risk of another sports concussion.
Step One: Return to Regular Activities
This will mean different things for different people. For young children, it might mean returning to school. For adult athletes, it might mean going back to work.
However, the return to regular activities should only occur after a few days of rest. That rest gives the brain a chance to heal. It also gives parents and those around someone with a concussion a chance to watch for new symptoms that require medical treatment.
Start slow, though. After a few days, begin light activity such as short walks. Pick something that does not increase the risk of another concussion.
Step Two: Add Some Light Aerobics
Once back to regular daily activities, the primary might give the go-ahead for some light aerobics. That might mean a faster walk or a light jog. The exercise should not be stressful. Avoid things like a long run or weight lifting. Choose something that increases the heart rate slightly.
Step Three: Shift to Moderate Exercise
After a few days of taking it easy, step up to moderate exercise. At this point, there still should be no contact sports like football. Instead, an athlete might take a short run or ride a stationary bike. The goal is to increase the heart rate and moderate head movement but not put the body at risk for another concussion.
Step Four: Heavier Training
By stage four, it is safe to increase the training to add more exertion. The exercise should still not involve contact, though. HIgh-intensity movement is acceptable such as a long run or even moderate weight lifting.
Step Five: Return To Full Contact Practice
One can return to the field at this stage but only for practice. The goal is to maintain a controlled environment in case new symptoms arise or there is another sports concussion.
Step Six: Back to Normal Play
The sixth and final step puts the athlete back on the playing field for competition.
Taking a slower, six-step approach to returning after a sports concussion gives the brain time to heal fully before putting it at risk again.